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Does being wealthy mean you can’t care?

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Russell Brand is a bit like Marmite isn’t he? You either love him or you hate him, well this is certainly the impression I get when I read through comments on popular blog posts regarding Mr Brand. I don’t agree with every single idea that Russell proposes, but you can clearly see that one thing he doesn’t lack is passion. Yes his methods are a bit ‘out there’ but the message he spreads is only one of good intentions.

His recent appearance in the media is an example of those good intentions, Russell Brand is interviewed by a Channel 4 reporter about his latest protest in support of the New Era Estates residents in East London. The local residents are facing possible eviction and fearing uncertainty over their futures after US investment company Westbrook Partners bought out the estate.

The interview has been shared across social media because Russell has another one of his famous rants but I completely resonate with him on this occasion. When interviewing Russell about this social issue that real people are facing, the reporter resorts to asking Russell how much his house is. I fail to see how that has any connection with the real issue at hand. Regardless of what you think of Mr Brand, why is there a constant need to undermine him, even when he is just supporting a cause?

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How one project helps keep Cardiff’s street-based sex workers safe

Because Sex workers are still human! Support this amazing charity if you can spare a few quid! Really good outlook on this ever increasing local issue!

Silver Disco Daps

Last night I spent the evening with the outreach team of Streetlife, a project run by Safer Wales, to protect young people and adults in Cardiff from prostitution, abuse and sexual exploitation.  What their dedicated volunteers do REALLY matters. Here’s why.

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My drive to work through Grangetown to the bay is a short, fairly tedious one. I do it on automatic pilot now. This morning, the sky was a riotous kaleidoscope of pinks and oranges that felt unseasonably pretty. And as I drove to my warm office, my 9-5 conformity, with Radio 4 droning in the background, I thought about how different the city looks bathed in daylight.

Last night I experienced an aspect of the city’s nightlife that is hidden to most of us. Every night in Cardiff, as in many other towns and cities, women work the streets, selling their bodies to scrape together a living. I thought about those…

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Because Boobs aren’t news!

Since I was a young girl I’ve been accustomed to seeing images of half naked women in the media. I can remember being about 5 or 6, reading the newspaper over my dads shoulder and seeing a page 3 model for the first time. I can’t remember what I thought at the time, but I think the worst thing is, I never questioned it. I never wondered why it was okay for women to be portrayed like that.

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I don’t read the sun and I probably never will but regardless of what I think and do, it’s still probably one of the most popular tabloids in the UK. Rupert Murdoch believes page 3 is iconic for Britain, and if that is true then that is really sad. I believe that women only do these things because it pays to do so, if it didn’t then I wonder how many half naked women we would see paraded about the media and the internet? I don’t believe they aren’t doing it to liberate themselves.

My frustration is that most young girls will look to that as inspiration, will dream of having perfect breasts, a tiny waist and a big bum. You are worth way more than what you look like, and especially what you look like naked. Women do amazing things every day in business, in politics, in sport and so much more, but we hardly hear about it. No-one seems interested and yet a woman can reveal a naked body to break the internet and gets world wide recognition within minutes.

I have three beautiful nieces, and people always comment on how beautiful they are and yes they are extremely beautiful I can’t deny that. But they are also a combination of many talents, they can play instruments, sing, dance, they are athletic and creative and artistic and intelligent. They have so many qualities to offer the big wide world, like so many other young girls. Yet the focus always seems to be on how they look.

Luckily they would never be influenced by media, and not all people are. I’m not saying that Page 3 makes young girls want to take their clothes off as that would be an unfair comment, what I’m trying to say is that we need to start celebrating women for more than their physical beauty. I don’t usually agree with these social ‘experiments’ as a lot of them lately have been quite sexist and one sided but I enjoyed this one because it really hits home. That is why I signed the petition and that is why I’m sharing this video. Just because we are used to it, it doesn’t mean we have to put up with it. #NMP3

Please watch the video and sign the petition, if you feel as strongly as I do!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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You don’t need to stop being so sensitive!

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I struggle with my own sensitivity on a daily basis ….

I truly believe that the majority of people who suffer with depression do so because they are sensitive souls. Depression is an illness that I have battled with since I was a young girl and all of my adult life, and I personally believe it’s because I care too much. I expect everyone to have the same moral compass as me and because I’m passionate about things, I find it difficult to comprehend when other people don’t have the same amount of passion and empathy as me.

This of course is completely unrealistic, and it only makes me feel very isolated in my thoughts, because of this I find it difficult to watch the news or engage in everyday conversations because if I hear something bad it lingers with me for days. Because of this I spent so much of my life wishing I didn’t care, wishing I wasn’t so sensitive and longing for the strength to be carefree and happy, truly believing that my sensitive nature was a bad thing and the root of all my problems.

I guess this is why I have suffered so much I get so overwhelmed by the intensity of life and I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to change. That the intense compassion I experience isn’t normal and that everyone else is normal but I’m not because I can’t just let things go over my head. But this isn’t true and coming to terms with who I am and accepting myself and what I believe in has slowly started to help me pull through my depression.

Depression is such an isolating and dark illness, you could be in a room full of people and still feel so alone, you could have so many reasons to be happy and yet still feel surrounded by intense pain and suffering. The only way to describe it would be complete and utter emptiness. Over the years I have had some dark moments, where I’ve felt like there was no way out, where I felt like ending it all. I still get those days where I want to retreat under my duvet and not face the world, but I’m learning that acceptance is the first step to my recovery.

A good friend of mine recently gave me a book called ‘The Aquarian Empath’ by Irma Kaye Sawyer. Like me, my friend is a sensitive soul, she is one the few people that honestly gets me, and accepts me wholeheartedly. She told me that this book had helped her come to terms with her own battles and that she hoped it would help me. I started reading it and suddenly so many things were making sense, it is a very spiritual book and I know spiritual stuff isn’t for everyone but it has helped me massively because of the way I process things. Everyone needs to have faith in something right? Whatever that is for you then embrace it, but this works for me.

If you’re a sensitive person, if you feel like you sit on the fence or try and always be fair or mediate, if you’re constantly feeling guilty, if you feel like you absorb other people’s problems or continually apologise for things you don’t need too then I recommend you pick up this book. I am a sensitive person and I feel things deeply. It is a quality in me that makes up my personality and shapes who I am, and I am proud of that. It has taken me years to believe that I can be proud of that.

There will always be bad in this world, but I have learnt to accept what I cannot change. The next time someone says to you, ‘you need to stop taking things to heart’ whatever your response, even if you ignore them, just affirm yourself that you don’t need to stop taking things to heart. Take pride in the fact that your heart is full and your intentions are good and as long as you keep that affirmation with you wherever you go, you will be able to love yourself for all that you are, a sensitive little soul with high hopes and big dreams.

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Dappers Downfall : Did he bring it on himself?

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There’s much so much uproar about dapper laughs lately and I admit I was glad that his show was pulled off ITV but after I watched his interview on Newsnight, I can’t help but feeling really sorry for him.

I know, I know, his jokes were tasteless and sexist and degrading against women and I’m not trying to condone it in anyway but does he deserve to be targeted this much? At first I thought yes, of course, and I’m still of the view that his show needed to pulled simply for the fact of the comment ‘She’s gagging for a rape’. But now I’m starting to wonder whether he should be the only one to blame?

The reason I feel sorry for dapper is because the media as they often do, built him up and just brought him back down again. He just started off as a man making vines (some of his early vines even made me chuckle) and then all of sudden out of nowhere he accumulated this huge fan base, and the people that enjoyed his sense of humour I suppose, were the ones who got him to the point where he was able to air an ITV show.

I truly believe that the popular ‘Lad’ culture and his demographic of followers got to his head, and unfortunately people take money over morals. This won’t dent ITVs reputation, they will still go on to produce shows and make money, Dapper to them at the time was dollar signs, they saw he had a huge following and they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

My point is the media don’t care about the real issue and if no petition was signed they would probably air another series, but Dapper laughs or Daniel O’Reilly, Which is his real name, has been just left to deal with the backlash. There will probably be lots of people saying he deserves it, and I can understand that completely but I don’t think he’s entirely to blame and I do think that lately there has been an influx of man hating media attention, and I can’t help but think people are just jumping on a bandwagon.

I think this whole lad culture is really damaging to young men and I’ve said this before but if you’ve ever read a thread of comments on a popular blog such as UniLad for example, you would see that women also adopt these same views and sense of humour and just because they are called ‘Lad’ bible or Uni ‘Lad’ they have just as much of a female following, and females do often comment in agreement.

There’s been so many social experiments as well that just show men in a negative light, and there is a difference between raising awareness of real issues and trying to tarnish all men with the same brush. The reason I say this is because I am all for raising awareness of these issues and I’ve been affected by some of them myself, but they are not going to be taken seriously if they are not addressed fairly.

Take your social experiment to Cardiff City Centre on a Saturday night and you would see that it’s not just men that are foul mouthed and aggressive or derogatory, some of the behaviour I’ve witnessed from women has shocked me. There has been times I’ve been harassed on a night out and it’s not nice and I’m glad were raising awareness but there has also been times where a man has helped me into a taxi and got me home safely when I’ve had too much to drink, and I think this needs to be acknowledged too. There needs to be more focus on the issue at hand and less focus on gender because believe it or not, not all men are bad.

If thousands of people can sign a petition to get Dapper laughs off the television, think of the impact that could make to a charity that helps victim of sexual abuse and rape if those thousands volunteered or donated or raised awareness? So rather than just joining in on the uproar for fifteen minutes, go and do something positive about it. Not all men are monsters and not all women are saints, and I think this needs to be recognised before feminism and what it stands for is seen as a joke.

These are my thoughts but I’d love to hear yours, so do you think it was fair or do you think it was an over-reaction? Comment below or send me your views at: laura.kilvington@hotmail.co.uk

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You don’t have to be in a cell to be a prisoner …

Up until fairly recently I spent the past two years working for a National Charity who specialise in Health & Social Care and Criminal Justice Services. Those of you who work in the third sector, or who have worked in the third sector will know, it can present its challenges. More often than not the work we wish to do to help people is put on hold because of bureaucracy and legislation, and it can be frustrating especially when we all work in this sector for one end goal; to help people. One thing is for sure though, the reason that we do this and the reason that we persevere is because one good day can counteract a dozen bad ones, and just helping that one person can make it all worthwhile, and you realise ‘this is why I do this’.

I absolutely loved my job, I went above and beyond sometimes, and never for financial gain or bonuses (Third Sector doesn’t always have that luxury!) but because I believed in our values. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to have met some truly amazing and inspirational people, staff, service users and volunteers – the admiration I have for what they do is substantial. The staff couldn’t always help everyone, sometimes it was too late, but they still got up every single day and continued to try and for that, I think they are absolutely outstanding.

One person in particular that had a lasting effect on me was a gentleman for these purposes, we will call him Joe Jones. Joe was a prisoner in HMP Pres-Coed, an open prison facility, Category D. Part of the work we did was to take on volunteers from Pres-Coed to work with us, to get them job ready for release. When I first met Joe he was extremely shy and very nervous, I could barely get two words out of him. Still, he turned up every single day and always worked hard, and over time he felt more relaxed and eventually he opened up to me about why he was in prison and what he had been through in his life.

Joe committed a financial crime of fraud, and he eventually handed himself in because he couldn’t live with the guilt of what he had done. He knows more than anyone that he did wrong, and was fully prepared to face punishment, little did he know it would be so harsh. Joe received six years in prison for his crime and was sent to HMP Cardiff. I’ve been to HMP Cardiff myself (not as a prisoner) and it isn’t pleasant, it’s not supposed to be.

It was in HMP Cardiff where Joe tried to take his own life. He couldn’t face up to the fact he was in there and the fact that paedophile’s had lesser sentences, it made him feel worthless. Luckily his attempt to take his own life failed, and I’m so thankful that happened because I made a friend for life. Joe has often said that he was judged for being in prison, but we can all be prisoners, we can all feel like there is no way out at some point in our lives. Who are we to pass judgement on a human being that we don’t even know?

Recently a man was sentenced 9 years in prison for killing a new born child, this is only 3 years more than Joe received, yet he took a life? And if the judge had cared to look beyond a piece of paper he would realise that Joe’s life and livelihood was taken from him as young boy. He didn’t ask why he did his crime, he just assumed it was due to greed. All he needed to do, was a look a little further.

Joe is now working full time for the charity, and is helping other people change their lives around too. He truly is the most inspirational person I have ever met, and he is so grateful for all the help he’s received. I’m proud to have been a part of his journey, and I’m very proud to share with you, this heartfelt poem which he wrote after his unsuccessful suicide attempt.

It’s so easy to pass judgement on people and we all do it, but I ask you, next time you find yourself passing judgement on someone, speak to them, ask them, and don’t just write them off, because everyone is fighting a battle and we can all be prisoners sometimes.

 That day in court

 Who are you to say I am bad?

What do you know about the life I have had?

You read out loud the CPS report

My life was ruined and with no support

Who had cared that I been beaten, raped and abused?

You see me as a criminal the one who is accused

To you I’m just another case

Another criminal with a different face

In your wig and robe you sit

But do you really give a shit?

So next time you dismiss me with a wave of your hand

Just think for a second and don’t put your head in the sand

Think of the family you’re about to tear apart

As they lose a family member and a piece of their heart

It’s about what is right and the interest of fairness

I won’t give up until I raise awareness

You may not have meant it, and if it was never your intention

But you condemned me to 6 years of HMP detention

You turn a blind eye as if nothing you did was wrong,

Then you set free a paedo who dressed young boys in a thong

You think you’re the man moving up the ranks

CPS and police give you thanks

All because you wanted to express your power

And ruin my life in just less than half hour

Not a single thought for me as a human being

Or for the family I will no longer be seeing

If you adjourned to get an idea of my life

Or even asked for a comment from my wife

I will speak out and I will end the silence

As I raise awareness of victims of domestic violence

I committed a crime and I did wrong

But 6 years for this was way too long

Probation said suspended sentence and com service I should have had

Then I could still be at home and be a good dad

You allowed the press in without hesitation

With no thought of how they could cause devastation

Things were printed that wasn’t even fact!

 I ended up in prison on a suicide act

I don’t hate you or resent you for sending me to HMP

As I am getting the best help in years and for free

My mental state was a cause for worry

I have plenty of time to get better and I don’t have to hurry

I will prove you wrong when I change my whole life

And be a better dad to my son, and husband to my wife

Take head of my name *Joe Jones*, take a long hard look,

As next time you hear about me I would have written my book

You labelled me a fraudster and a thief

But here in prison I am not judged, such a relief

I am hoping my book will serve to inspire

And stop people harming with razor and wire

The help here is exceptional, better than on the out

They help with mental illness, anxiety and self-doubt

If you need to talk there is always someone there

Dr’s, nurses, officers they all seem to care

I came into prison scared and wanting to end my life

Fed up with stress and all the strife

Now I look back to when my treatment began

The torment, negativity the devil within

I wanted to get it all out, but didn’t know where to begin

I was struggling and panicking and I couldn’t cope

I felt the whole world would be better if I hung myself from a rope

I had to learn to trust adults and that to me was a huge roll of the dice

Yet the answers from counselling have been clear and concise

I won’t forget the day in court

But I will learn life’s lessons and I am happy to be taught

My childhood was a mess and where my problems began

But because you sent me here, I have a chance to become a better man.

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Why Lad Culture can be so damaging for young men …

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I do really feel sorry for kids these days growing up (way too fast) in such an over-sexualised culture. Porn is more accessible than ever before, social media is full of sexual images and videos, even the music that they listen too isn’t safe with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Rihanna releasing songs like ‘Anaconda’ and ‘Pour it up’. And don’t even get me started on twerking, just don’t go there.

The reason for my rant today is that recently I’ve been reading headlines concerning women (teachers in most cases) engaging in sexual intercourse with minors. Now as much as no one likes to read news like this (Well, I certainly don’t) my first thought was that It’s actually quite refreshing that women are being shamed for these hideous crimes. A minor is someone that is under the age of full legal responsibility, which in my eyes means that they’re a child and as well as being plain wrong, these women in particular are abusing a position of trust.

Now what is so worrying about these headlines that have come to light over the past few weeks isn’t the fact that it was a women perpetrator. For me, it’s the reaction. A few reactions to the article just sum up exactly why LAD culture is so damaging to young men. When commenting on the article in question and the fact the boy had pressed charges, responses were mainly along the lines of:

‘What a pussy’

‘Well in son’

‘Does she do home schooling’

‘Why did this never happen to me in school’

And when a sensible young man acknowledges the fact that it’s wrong, he gets called ‘A virgin’. Sigh!

Casey J. Cota · Nixa, Missouri

This comment forum is CRAWLING with creeps. So bad. : /

Yep, it just so happens that the teacher in question was easy on the eye, but would they still have the same reaction if she wasn’t slim and beautiful? Why is it all of sudden okay for a grown woman to take advantage of a minor just because she is ‘Fit’. I guess my point is, if this were a man and it was young girl, the reaction would be complete and utter uproar and the man would be branded a sicko or a peado.

1 in 25 sexual assaults are against men, with 14% of rapes having male victims yet men are continually underrepresented when it comes to domestic and sexual violence. But if men continue making a ‘joke’ about it or encouraging it with ‘Banter’ then those men that have experienced sexual assaults will continue to be underrepresented, because they will fear a negative reaction and not being taken seriously.

My frustration is, that engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor is wrong, even if it is consented it is still against the law. It is wrong when a male does it and it is also wrong when a female does it. Those that are glorifying these incidents need to realise the harm they are causing, for fearing a negative reaction or fear or not being a ‘LAD’ could be the reason one young man doesn’t speak out about his abuse and the perpetrator could possibly go on to physically and mentally scar another young person. Regardless of our gender, we need to stand up against what is wrong and stop glorifying sexual abuse.

If you’ve been affected by grooming, sexual abuse or rape then there is help out there, please don’t suffer in silence:

http://www.survivorsuk.org/

http://oneinfour.org.uk/wordpress/

http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/

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